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Posts Tagged ‘Black leadership’

When Community Change Starts with Individual Activism

In Articles on July 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

If Black men can’t support Black fathers in the Black community in the fight to reclaim our future due to attachments to status quo, our future is truly limited. Can Black America change that dynamic to change their fortunes?

1 year after standing up on behalf of a grieving father in a challenged community, one has to wonder: have we changed our viewpoints on the smaller issues in life that, in return, play such a role in the large problems we face in Black America and our approaches to them?

Fridays falling on the 13th are supposed to be unlucky. And as I drove away this week and looked back on the skyline of Chicago, looking at a city in crisis in regards to the conditions of many Black residents, it hit me: sadly, this is the one-year anniversary of everything that – to some – epitomizes the challenges and shortcomings of fortune for the Black community when addressing the crisis we face together.


About a year ago this week, little Nyeem Casaberry passed away suddenly and tragically. Two dedicated young parents – barely adults themselves – were left to grieve without parents to lean on themselves and a community that had little to say or do to aid them.


For those of you that know the story, you are aware that the tragedy was compounded when the father lost his job suddenly over having to make a simple, life-or-death choice: be at his prematurely-born son’s side while he fought for life or attend a minimum wage job and abandon his girlfriend of two years and little Nyeem. And, as best he could and against every stereotype (and sad reality) concerning young Black fathers as absentee fathers, the ROTC award-winner, full-time employee and 2.8 GPA college student juggled it all – including the job when able – through the most difficult of times for a man, let alone a 21-year-old man without his parents and little secular resources.


And the price of doing the right thing for his family, trying to be forthright with a Black employer, and working to hold it together through the unimaginable pain of losing a child? A lost job – the thing that would provide for unexpected funeral expenses and associated costs with the tragedy for the young couple and their circle of loved ones.


The community would soon learn the price of doing the right thing – both behind the scenes and in the public sphere – to support this young father that has spent his life trying to be an upright man. Should a Black man support another Black man – one that, despite the harsh realities of growing up on the west side of Chicago, maintains a dedication to being a positive influence in Black America? Perhaps. And the price for such advocacy? A lost platform – a position that provided a sense of advocacy and support for Black people trying to escape decades of status quo despair and hopelessness in a Black mecca of the nation, all over high-rung loyalties and inconsistencies between our rhetoric and our actions.


And the price for all of us wondering if either one of these actions was part of “doing the right thing” on the individual scale? In the quest of trying to change the dynamics of Black Chicago, a true area in crisis, we find a lost opportunity. We find a lost chance to begin a trek back from complaining to accountability and from fear to functionality, even when it meant taking on the dysfunctional hands that strangle our communities from within.


As I sit here on this Friday the 13th, I wonder how unlucky we all are from that situation that played out 1 year ago. Anyone that has had a sick child knows that one of the very worst things to experience is the severe physical illness of one’s child, with that experience only being outdone in heartache by the loss of a child.


Yet, because of the symptoms of close-minded, clique loyalty, money-first mentalities such as the one exhibited in Nyeem’s tragic loss last year, we continue to face situations where some Black leaders are unwilling to break the binds of decades-long acquaintances for the sake of unhinging the chains that enslave our communities with poverty, unemployment, mis-education, and political weakness. Through rehashing the same tired responses to gang violence, political corruption, and business inadequacies in our communities, we collectively are guaranteeing that we will continue the same set of terrible results that our children increasingly suffer. Moving out of the comfort zone of rhetoric will move us out of the combat zones our children grow up in.


If we are truly willing to change the fortunes of Black America and, notably, Black Chicagoans that face the violence and other urban life challenges that hamper our communities, we must stop addressing the misfortunes within Black America with the same approaches. Playing it safe within the comfort zones of the Black middle class is not the approach that will break the “unlucky” cycles of being born into bad neighborhoods with bad schools and bad influences all around. Being unwilling to sacrifice for the next generations with what it takes – not necessarily what can be spared – will only serve to inch us further along the path when we are falling behind by leaps and bounds. Stepping out in faith to change Black Chicago and our communities requires stepping out from where we are now, not keeping in step with the tired modes that we embrace today.


Read the rest of the latest Lenny McAllister article on

The March on Gun Shops Double Standard

In Articles on June 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm

If Black leaders remain coyly selective on how and when they protest for what is just, the continued end results may just be in vain.

The proposed “marches on gun shops” to bring attention to Chicago’s spike in violence could lead to an unlikely destination and thus an unnecessary conundrum for Black leaders.

Recently, there have been a lot of tweets and scuttlebutt out there concerning a proposed organized effort (led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.) to protest gun shops around the nation in protest to the recent violence seen in cities such as Chicago.

Odd, considering that legal gun ownership in the city of Chicago was not viable until post-2010 by way of the McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court case from a few years back.

I commend Rev. Jackson for his years of service to America and the Black community. Those that have heard me on the air know that I don’t do the ugly names that get hurled at him and notable others. I also don’t attach over-generalizing motives to all of his actions.

Just the same, I believe in the validity of the Second Amendment – although as a Pittsburgh native and a Chicago resident, I understand the debate over appropriate urban gun oversight. That said, I hope the Reverend doesn’t get into a faux war with small business owners that happen to be gun shop owners.

It would be akin to taking on all of the liquor stores in our communities in the hope that we can stem the tide of substance abuse and unhealthiness in Black America.

How successful has that effort been? Of course, couple those efforts to close community liquor stores with us watching the most successful grocery chains in our communities sell alcohol to us 40- ounces at a time from aisles sitting right beside the frozen juices, distilled water and frozen vegetables.

We don’t say much about that contradiction.

A symbolic boycott of the gun shops will likely be as effective as the Congressional Black Caucus grilling Attorney General Eric Holder over the recent spike in shootings in Chicago, including the beloved South Side communities. Reaching for low-hanging fruit solutions to address the youth violence decimating our communities (such as probing the Department of Justice for possible – and unnecessary – big government involvement or taking on small business owners over decades-long challenges) does nothing for the high-wind drama that we collectively continue to catch.

Black leaders apply double standards and inconsistent methodologies to our issues – namely, protesting those that are outside of our circles of friends and influence while condoning the dysfunction ongoing within our comfort zones of confidants.  As long as they do that, we will continue to capture attention in the media, yet continue failing to capture any long-lasting solutions.


Catch more of Lenny McAllister’s “The March on Gun Shops Double Standard” on Politic365